Forgotten Films


That's about it then. Twenty-eight days, twenty-eight or so films. Some reviews have undoubtedly been better written than others, some choices obviously stretching the definition of the word 'forgotten' to its very limit. I'm embarrassed to note how few choices were from outside my own lifetime but I think I managed to accomplish what I set out to do, which was to highlight that the filmic landscape is an exciting, experimental place and that there are many, many great works of art which have been missed and under-appreciated because they haven't been given enough time under the studio's marketing spotlight to really shine. Please let me know if you seen anything on my recommendation and if you agreed.

I did notice some themes. As I predicted, the list featured many romances, many narratives with quirky timeframes and weirdly a good few apocalyptic visions. I tried to cover as many different types of film as possible, although there were certain genres such as the western or the musical that were notable by their absence. The former because I've only really seen the classics and the latter because I haven't seen nearly enough. I nearly dropped in RENT which I do think is an underrated film in and of itself, but I don't think it's as forgotten as something like Life Story so what would be the point? You should probably too be pleased that I didn't try and justify a place for the Doctor Who television movie with Paul McGann or make every other entry a Shakespeare adaptation but I wanted to challenge myself a little bit which explains their absence.

I was challenged. I absolutely appreciate the art of the film reviewer even more now as they have to try and find new ways of saying why they do and don't like some film. You vary your delivery, drifting from analysis to autobiography to didacticism. There was a fear that I'd keep leaning on crutch words like 'juxtaposition', 'absolutely', 'actually', 'exquisite', 'employing' and 'intelligent' but it turns out my vocabulary is larger than I thought. Although actually 'actually' is a very big word for me turning up once, actually even twice in the same review. As did 'although'.

When I began, the idea was to highlight some great films so that my mate Annette would have something to add to her Netflix list and she says she's done that, which is good. It has been really disappointing though to discover that some of my favourite films aren't available on dvd or have been deleted since a millennial release. I've been sniffy about VHS but in some cases those ribbons of brown tape are the only way to see many of these classics, which is a tragedy, especially as they slowly oxidize from year to year. The problem, I suppose, is that because there isn't a perceived market for them, they're not apparently worth the cost of the transfer.

This process has also reminded me that film is an ephemeral art form and that studios are more interested in creating new product than venerating what they have. The reason there weren't many films outside my lifetime is because I simply haven't seen them because they're even less available than their contemporary counterparts. Prints get lost, studios close and back catalogues are bought by companies that don't much care for them and the tip of the iceberg, the apparent classics, are re-released ad-infinitum as work from directors and actors and writers created at the same time are lost and yes, forgotten.

Technology is shifting in our favour though. First steps are already being made towards a system where pay-per-view becomes the norm, and you'll be able to sit on your sofa and pull up all of the content a film company has in their archive in better than dvd quality streamed or downloaded to your television. Imagine the Internet Movie Database if it included an extra option to watch whatever film was listed, whole careers and genres available to us, forgotten films from throughout motion picture history suddenly revived at the touch of a button. A pipedream certainly in a world were distributors of dvds and television channels also need to make a crust, but something to work towards.

In the meantime, we'll keep hoarding the unloved, the direct to video Australian ensemble comedies, the bizarre sci-fi blockbusters, the obscure televisual science docu-dramas and the animated Shakespearean short. We'll persistently scouring the tv schedules for the unsung b-picture shot on the sets of an A or the small town comedy just a name above the title away from being considered a true classic. We'll continue checking ebay just in case someone decides to part with a nocturnal café comedy or suburban crime drama. We'll persevere with the film companies hoping that a holy grail will be granted a re-release so that we can show it to a friend and say:

'See, look, I told you it was good.'

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